Clyde cash runs out

AN organisation set up to breathe new life into Clydebank is to be wound up.

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Clydebank Re-built, set up to inject new life into the town, is to fold
Clydebank Re-built, set up to inject new life into the town, is to fold

Regeneration agency Clydebank Re-built was set up in 2002 by West Dunbartonshire Council and Scottish Enterprise.

Its aim was to spearhead economic, social and physical regeneration following the closure of the John Brown's shipyard site.

Over a decade, it received £54million in funding from a number of organisations including the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, the council and the EU.

But that dried up a year ago and it has since been using its own cash ­reserves to fund projects.

As a result, councillors have agreed to buy out Clydebank Re-built at a cost of £800,000 meaning the local authority will now be responsible for ­future regeneration of the area.

One of the most high-profile projects carried out by Clydebank Re-built was the decision to buy 10 acres of the John Brown's site and to refurbish the Titan Crane at a cost of almost £4m.

A visitor and education complex was created and the shipyard land was decontaminated.

The regeneration agency opened a new business and learning hub with West Scotland College, was behind a housing development and new public walkways along the Clyde and upgrading Clydebank Town Hall as a theatre, conference, museum and exhibition venue.

Clydebank Re-built was also responsible for environmental improvements in the town centre, a new pedestrian bridge over the Forth and Clyde canal and for setting up a number of new business units and workshops.

But a report to councillors says: "As there is no guarantee of further funding for Clydebank Re-built, the board have been looking for a successor model of ownership of the assets which will allow the company to wind up with all of its legal and financial obligations covered and ensure there is a positive, sustainable future for the legacy the company has built up over more than 10 years."

The organisation was funded by public bodies who all demanded clawback clauses allowing them to get back some of their cash if the assets of Clydebank ­Re-built were sold on to private companies.

The report says: "In ­total, the potential clawback figure which could be invoked is estimated to be a maximum of £10.3m."

However, the organisations have said they would be willing to consider Clydebank Re-built being transferred to another public body.

The report continues: "There is an opportunity for the council to facilitate the orderly winding up of Clydebank Re-built and to secure control of these assets for the future benefit of Clydebank and West Dunbartonshire."

Although the total assets of the operation are worth around £2.2m, the council will pay only £800,000.

That takes account of the fact the Titan Crane is running at an operating loss and the potential risk of one of the funding organisations demanding cash as a result of the takeover.

Today, shoppers at the centre had mixed opinions about the news.

Liz Robinson, 62, of Clydebank, said: "I think the shops here are okay. Better than what they were a few years ago.

"The changes to the shopping centre are noticeable and you can really tell the difference in the area in recent years to the college even from the outside."

Ian Bryson, 50, of Renfrew, said: "We come to these shops pretty much every Sunday. It's a lot better than Renfrew for shopping.

"There's been a big change to that leisure centre since I went there and it's definitely benefited Clydebank."

June Sharkey, 30, of Helensburgh, said: "I've worked at the ­local Co-op for nearly two years, and I do think the shopping centre is a mess. It just seems to get worse and worse."

Tommy Orme, of Old Kilpatrick, said: "The crane, the college and the shopping centre have been renovated by the council but there is still definitely room for improvement."

Anne Holmes added: "Clydebank shopping centre looks poor because of all the shops closing down, i don't see why they should cut funds while our rent is going up by £5 a week ­because of council tax."

Clydebank Re-built was sparked by the closure of the UIE/Kvaerner shipyards with the loss of hundreds of jobs.

The need for the town to create new jobs and training places while ­seizing the chance to ­develop prime ­riverside land was the driver for regeneration.

Graham Mochan, chairman of the Clydebank Re-built board, said: "Much has been achieved over the last 10 years and most of the development we see would not have happened as quickly without Clydebank Re-built being there to lever in the money and manage the projects.

"We have successfully kick-started the regeneration of Clydebank and once the economy picks up, Clydebank will be in a much stronger position to grasp the opportunities available.

"Since the financial ­crisis, both private and public funding for regeneration has been limited across the UK."

David McBride, West Dunbartonshire Council's convener of economic development, said: "It is evident Clydebank Re-built has delivered significant improvements to the town and this is the most appropriate way of recognising this and ­ensuring the assets remain available for the long term benefit of Clydebank.

"The council remains committed to continuing the regeneration of Clydebank and the wider West Dunbartonshire."

Local government

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